This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. This post is to bring awareness to the fact that 1 in 6 Canadian couples will experience infertility. 1 in 6! That’s a LOT of people.
Here’s the problem… Most people don’t understand, and don’t know what to say when someone says “we’re struggling to have a baby” or “we’ve been diagnosed with infertility”. Most often people say things that are meant with the best intentions:
“Just relax and it will happen.”
“Just give it time.”
“You’re still young, stop worrying about it. You have tons of time.”
“Just get drunk/go on vacation/do acupuncture/do yoga/stop thinking about it and it will happen.”
“My friend’s cousin’s niece had infertility and she’s been trying for 13 years and bam she just got pregnant one day. BTW, she’s like 44. So don’t worry, it will definitely happen for you”.
“You can always adopt.”
Although we know that you mean well, TRUST ME WHEN I SAY:
- Infertility is a real diagnoses. The medical community considers it a disease. Relaxing will NOT help. Also, suggesting that a woman is “too tense” or isn’t relaxed enough places blame on her, as if she’s not doing everything she can. Diminishing the diagnoses with a comment like “you’re too tense” really hurts. You would not say that to someone battling a more well understood disease, would you?
- Time isn’t going to help. In fact, in most cases, the more time that goes by, the LESS likely you are to get pregnant. In my case, I have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (my eggs supply is really low). Each month that goes by lessens my chances.
- See above. Just because you are “young” doesn’t mean you can’t or don’t have real, diagnosed issues with fertility. It affects everyone differently, regardless of age.
- Trust me- I’ve tried EVERYTHING…Including injecting myself full of drugs and hormones multiple times a day for 3 years. We’ve spend thousands and thousands of dollars on doctors and medications… I’m thinking Yoga isn’t gonna work at this point.
- Everyone has some kind of story like this. I know it’s meant to be encouraging. BUT… I still don’t have a baby and so I kinda hate this.
- Yes, it is an option. A wonderful option for some people. However, to dismiss the fact that we want to make a baby naturally, together, like most people can, is hurtful. I wanted to be pregnant. It’s hurtful for someone to just say “whatever, just adopt”. It’s not that easy. And even then, adoption isn’t a guarantee either.
It sounds like I’m being harsh, but I’m honestly not trying to be. I know it’s hard to talk to someone about something they are going through when you don’t really understand or have all the facts. The most helpful things that I’ve heard are:
“I’m so so sorry you are going through this. I wish I could say something to help, but there’s really nothing I can say to make anything better.”
“I’m praying for you” (I am not a religious person at all, but this always touches my heart.)
“This fucking sucks.” SO TRUE! It totally does- thank you for putting it out there LOL
“I don’t know much about what you’re going through, but I’d like to learn. Would you tell me about it?”
The thing is, infertility touches every part of your life. Your social life, your financial life, your married life, your sex life. What you can/can’t eat. What you can/can’t drink. What you can/can’t do at the gym. Weight gain. Hormonal imbalances causing you to become what I will politely call “A fucking psycho”.
Infertility totally just takes over and everything in your life becomes arranged around your cycle, your appointments, waiting for a (usually negative) pregnancy test. It is so emotional, and most times you feel very alone. For me, each month over 3 years was another disappointment. And your friends, family, etc, they try so hard to be supportive month after month, but sometimes it feels like I should be more positive so as not to weigh them down… they may not want to hear me complain/cry every single month. My husband may not want to hear every SINGLE thing come out of my mouth relate to fertility. In 3 years, We have had a twin still birth, and a non-viable pregnancy. 13 failed IUIs. 3 surgeries. 2 failed IVF cycles.
And so, It is all I think about. Every single day.
And my husband… I think sometimes people forget about him. Not him personally, but in general, the male (or the partner) in the equation. I think it must be so difficult to have to not only go through all these painful disappointments, but to also watch your wife struggle so badly month after month. I don’t think men really talk about it too much either and that must be hard. Please don’t forget about the partners going through infertility. They need support too.
I think the hardest part is that with infertility, there is no guarantee. I think many people don’t understand that. They think that fertility treatments are a sure thing. I’m living proof that that’s not the case.
I think at the end of the day, my wish would be for people to become familiar with infertility, miscarriage and infant loss, and how it affects the people going through it, as well as their families. It’s difficult.
I wish that people going through it would talk about it more openly, more frequently.
It’s not talked about very often. Infertility, infant loss, miscarriage. These are all “taboo” subjects that I think people don’t want to talk about because they are just too sad. It makes people uncomfortable. But sadly they happen so much more often than we know, so let’s break the silence and offer our support openly. Often people suffer alone because they feel like they can’t be open about these things. But for me personally, it helps to talk about it, and to write about it. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for listening xo.